Easterday Appeals Ruling on Tyson Case

Former Rancher Easterday Appeals Court's Dismissal of Case Versus Tyson Fresh Meats

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Former Washington rancher Cody Easterday has appealed the dismissal of a lawsuit he filed against Tyson Fresh Meats. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Former eastern Washington rancher Cody Easterday has appealed a federal court's Oct. 31, 2023, dismissal of a lawsuit he filed against Tyson Fresh Meats, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Washington on Tuesday.

The court dismissed two lawsuits filed by Easterday, who was convicted of wire fraud and is serving an 11-year prison sentence in Los Angeles for conducting a so-called ghost-cattle scheme.

At the end of October, the court dismissed a January 2023 lawsuit by Easterday alleging Tyson Fresh Meats owed him money for breach of contract from selling his beef. Easterday is appealing that decision.

Easterday alleged the company never paid for the use of his name and likeness as part of a joint venture that involved the marketing and selling of premium beef from his ranch. The former rancher told the court Tyson owes him about $100 million.

According to court records, briefs are due in the case in January and February.

Easterday pleaded guilty to perpetuating a so-called "ghost cattle" scheme for billing Tyson to the tune of $233 million for raising cattle that didn't exist. Court documents show Easterday conducted the scheme in an attempt to make up for losses he sustained in the futures market.

On Aug. 28, 2023, the court dismissed another lawsuit filed by Easterday against Tyson alleging the company had committed a number of antitrust violations and violated the Packers and Stockyards Act during a 10-year business relationship.

In the months following pleading guilty to wire fraud, Easterday raised tens of millions of dollars through asset sales in an attempt to make restitution to Tyson.

The Easterday Ranches saga drew national attention when a company connected to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints was the winning bidder for the Easterday assets. The second-highest bidder was an investment company tied to Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

According to court documents in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Eastern Washington, Farmland Reserve, owned by the church, was awarded the winning bid of $209 million for the Easterday assets.

Easterday operated an extensive family farm operation in eastern Washington involved in cattle feeding as well as 22,500 acres of potatoes, onions, corn and wheat in the Columbia Basin.

Beginning in 2016 and continuing through November 2020, Easterday submitted false and fraudulent invoices and other information to Tyson and another company.

The Easterday Ranches Inc. owner received reimbursement from the companies for the purported purchase and raising of cattle the company never actually bought.

Read more on DTN:

"Easterday's Tyson Lawsuits Dismissed," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Easterday Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Winning Bid on Easterday Assets: $209M," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"WA Rancher Admits 'Ghost-Cattle' Scam," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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